Advertising
Advertising

Published on July 14, 2020

What Is a Complete Life? 5 Rules to Live By

What Is a Complete Life? 5 Rules to Live By

“You complete me!” It sounds like a sappy phrase from a romantic movie.

Sometimes, however, we do have experiences that make us feel that way.

Imagine the feeling you have after eating a delicious meal and biting into an equally decadent dessert. Or imagine you are at the end of a beautiful day, maybe on vacation, when one seemingly perfect moment unfolded after the next.

A friend of mine described this feeling after having her third child. In that moment, she said their family felt complete.

The feeling of life being complete can be like deep peace, appreciation for all that we have and all that we are, with no other wishes in the moment. It can bring a sense of being home.

As we go through life, we are constantly being bombarded by messages about what we need or how we can make our lives better.

However, the feeling of completeness is not about reaching some outer goal that we can check off our list. Instead, it’s something that happens internally and is very personal.

So, what is a complete life?

Ask Yourself This Question

It’s important to ask:

What does living a complete life mean to you?

Advertising

Have you ever experienced a feeling of your life seeming to be complete, even if only for a moment?

My personal belief is that when we experience a sense of completeness, we are being present, grateful, and connected to our unique, inner essence.

By essence, I mean that energy or spark you have within you than no one else on the face of the earth does or ever will.

I believe living a complete life means being you—the real you.

What Is Completeness, Really?

There are so many different ways we experience this essence or gift—our most authentic selves.

We see this essence in action when someone is doing something he or she truly loves to do. Their eyes light up, a smile crosses their face, they are completely focused on the moment, doing what they love to do and being who they really are.

We witness the same radiant energy when we look at a piece of art by someone who was completely in flow when creating it.

We see it in a child when s/he is completely focused and experiencing the joy of playing with a toy, rolling in the sand, or expressing delight about whatever is happening in the moment.

While we all have the ability to experience this sense of completeness, it doesn’t happen automatically.

It requires being able to let go, even for a split second, and connecting with that energy within that has no words. It is already complete just as it is, unique and almost magical.

Advertising

How Do We Live a Complete Life?

How do we go from navigating the responsibilities of the day-to-day—working, paying bills, trying to eat healthy, exercising, connecting with the outer world, and keeping our relationships humming along, while also feeling this sense of wholeness and completeness? What is a complete life?

The answers are different for each of us, but in my experience, the following five rules can help.

1. Choose Self-Compassion and Empathy

So often we are taught that the only way we can succeed or attain true happiness is if we learn to do things better than other people or when we achieve our personal best.

What if, however, instead of so much focus on life in competitive terms, we instead experimented with compassion?

One of the greatest teachers I have ever had the privilege of studying with when it comes to training in empathy and self-compassion is the Buddhist teacher Pema Chodron.

Pema teaches a simple technique called tonglen meditation[1]. In a nutshell, tonglen meditation is training in letting go of the hard-ness of judgement, and accessing the soft spot of empathy and compassion.

The important thing about empathy is to remember that just as we are each unique, we are also always connected with each other because we are all human.

The ability to truly feel compassion for ourselves and deep empathy for others not only makes our current relationships better, it can also help us to attract new relationships that are truly authentic and fulfilling.

2. Be Vulnerable in Order to Stretch and Grow

We receive so many messages from marketers that we would be happier and more successful if we were more perfect. The truth is, perfection is not a goal that any of us can attain.

While none of us are perfect, we are all capable of enormous change, transformation, and growth.

Advertising

When we shift our perspective to seeing life as an adventure, an opportunity to grow and learn, and adopt a growth mindset[2], we begin experiencing the joy that only comes from stretching.

In this way, living a full, complete life isn’t about achieving specific goals, but rather about discovering new ways to connect with that part of ourselves that is unique, complete, changing, growing, and expanding all the time.

The ability to stretch and grow helps us to experience life as a series of complete moments rather than an end goal unto itself.

3. Give Back and Help Others

We each have something unique to offer the world. Research shows that knowing that the small role we play is making a positive difference makes us happier and healthier[3] and has a positive effect on our resilience[4].

Ask yourself if there is one simple way you could make someone’s life better today. Pay attention to what you choose.

When we find a way to make a difference that also resonates with our unique gifts and who we really are, we reach a new level of fulfillment.

Your unique way of helping may light the way to a greater sense of purpose that could help make your life feel more complete.

4. Listen to Your Intuition

For years, I have been studying and teaching ways we can each access our intuition more easily. I am often amazed both by how easily we can each access answers for our lives when we take a quiet moment to connect.

We receive so many messages about what is right and wrong that we often forget to tune into and trust ourselves. By simply sitting in silence or meditating on an open-ended question, however, we can easily and effortlessly gain powerful insights about what is right for us in our lives.

Other ways to access our intuition include journaling, writing down our dreams, listening to how our body feels when we are around certain people or doing certain tasks, and asking ourselves specific questions about what we need most and paying attention to the first thing that pops into our mind.

Advertising

Our intuition can be a powerful guide to finding unexpected stops along the way, treasures we would have never known were available to us if we hadn’t trusted our inner wisdom.

5. Do What You Love

Research shows that when we do what we love, and do that in a state of flow, we find our way not only to happiness, but also to greater success and overall well-being[5].

You don’t have to do what you love as a career. You don’t even have to be good at it. Making time for activities you love, without any thought to where they are taking you, can make a huge difference in your life.

If you aren’t sure what you love to do, there are many books about finding your passion and spending time in flow and being creative, including Finding Your Own North Star by Martha Beck and Do What You Love, The Money Will Follow by Marsha Sinetar.

Honoring our passions not only helps us to connect with our unique essence, but it also helps us find our unique paths to living lives that honor all of who we are.

Doing more of what we love can also pave the way to new hobbies or careers that can help our lives feel more complete.

Final Thoughts

What is a complete life for you? Trust your own answers.

What do you think about the idea of having a unique essence that no one else has? What makes you feel most in sync, connected, and alive?

Look back over the 5 rules above. Which one excites you most? Which one do you think might have the greatest positive impact on your life right now?

Pick one of the rules above and start today. You are already on your way!

More Articles on Living a Complete Life

Featured photo credit: Tyler Nix via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Laurie Smith

Inspirational Writer. Coach. Healer.

What Is a Complete Life? 5 Rules to Live By How to Set Intentions That Set You Up for Success 13 Keys to Living Your Best Life

Trending in Mental Strength

1 7 Tips for Overcoming Challenges in Life Like a Pro 2 10 Ways to Live an Intentional Life 3 17 Ways for Building Resilience and Staying Tough 4 How to Have Self-Control and Be the Master of Your Life 5 10 Reasons Why You Should Chase Your Dreams

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on August 6, 2020

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

We’ve all done it. That moment when a series of words slithers from your mouth and the instant regret manifests through blushing and profuse apologies. If you could just think before you speak! It doesn’t have to be like this, and with a bit of practice, it’s actually quite easy to prevent.

“Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another.” – Napolean Hill

Are we speaking the same language?

My mum recently left me a note thanking me for looking after her dog. She’d signed it with “LOL.” In my world, this means “laugh out loud,” and in her world it means “lots of love.” My kids tell me things are “sick” when they’re good, and ”manck” when they’re bad (when I say “bad,” I don’t mean good!). It’s amazing that we manage to communicate at all.

When speaking, we tend to color our language with words and phrases that have become personal to us, things we’ve picked up from our friends, families and even memes from the internet. These colloquialisms become normal, and we expect the listener (or reader) to understand “what we mean.” If you really want the listener to understand your meaning, try to use words and phrases that they might use.

Am I being lazy?

When you’ve been in a relationship for a while, a strange metamorphosis takes place. People tend to become lazier in the way that they communicate with each other, with less thought for the feelings of their partner. There’s no malice intended; we just reach a “comfort zone” and know that our partners “know what we mean.”

Advertising

Here’s an exchange from Psychology Today to demonstrate what I mean:

Early in the relationship:

“Honey, I don’t want you to take this wrong, but I’m noticing that your hair is getting a little thin on top. I know guys are sensitive about losing their hair, but I don’t want someone else to embarrass you without your expecting it.”

When the relationship is established:

“Did you know that you’re losing a lot of hair on the back of your head? You’re combing it funny and it doesn’t help. Wear a baseball cap or something if you feel weird about it. Lots of guys get thin on top. It’s no big deal.”

It’s pretty clear which of these statements is more empathetic and more likely to be received well. Recognizing when we do this can be tricky, but with a little practice it becomes easy.

Have I actually got anything to say?

When I was a kid, my gran used to say to me that if I didn’t have anything good to say, I shouldn’t say anything at all. My gran couldn’t stand gossip, so this makes total sense, but you can take this statement a little further and modify it: “If you don’t have anything to say, then don’t say anything at all.”

A lot of the time, people speak to fill “uncomfortable silences,” or because they believe that saying something, anything, is better than staying quiet. It can even be a cause of anxiety for some people.

When somebody else is speaking, listen. Don’t wait to speak. Listen. Actually hear what that person is saying, think about it, and respond if necessary.

Am I painting an accurate picture?

One of the most common forms of miscommunication is the lack of a “referential index,” a type of generalization that fails to refer to specific nouns. As an example, look at these two simple phrases: “Can you pass me that?” and “Pass me that thing over there!”. How often have you said something similar?

Advertising

How is the listener supposed to know what you mean? The person that you’re talking to will start to fill in the gaps with something that may very well be completely different to what you mean. You’re thinking “pass me the salt,” but you get passed the pepper. This can be infuriating for the listener, and more importantly, can create a lack of understanding and ultimately produce conflict.

Before you speak, try to label people, places and objects in a way that it is easy for any listeners to understand.

What words am I using?

It’s well known that our use of nouns and verbs (or lack of them) gives an insight into where we grew up, our education, our thoughts and our feelings.

Less well known is that the use of pronouns offers a critical insight into how we emotionally code our sentences. James Pennebaker’s research in the 1990’s concluded that function words are important keys to someone’s psychological state and reveal much more than content words do.

Starting a sentence with “I think…” demonstrates self-focus rather than empathy with the speaker, whereas asking the speaker to elaborate or quantify what they’re saying clearly shows that you’re listening and have respect even if you disagree.

Advertising

Is the map really the territory?

Before speaking, we sometimes construct a scenario that makes us act in a way that isn’t necessarily reflective of the actual situation.

A while ago, John promised to help me out in a big way with a project that I was working on. After an initial meeting and some big promises, we put together a plan and set off on its execution. A week or so went by, and I tried to get a hold of John to see how things were going. After voice mails and emails with no reply and general silence, I tried again a week later and still got no response.

I was frustrated and started to get more than a bit vexed. The project obviously meant more to me than it did to him, and I started to construct all manner of crazy scenarios. I finally got through to John and immediately started a mild rant about making promises you can’t keep. He stopped me in my tracks with the news that his brother had died. If I’d have just thought before I spoke…

Read Next